Iowa State-bound Taylor not afraid of challenges

Seriously ... It's impossible not to like David Taylor.

In an era where it's become commonplace for athletes and teams to dodge competition, the high school senior from St. Paris Graham (Ohio), who maintains a 4.0 grade point average, seeks out competition.

In a battle of two of Ohio's best ever, David Taylor moved up from 135 to 140 and beat Collin Palmer (Photo/Kevin Schlosser)
This past Saturday afternoon, in front of a packed gymnasium at St. Paris Graham High School, David Taylor, a three-time state champion, bumped up a weight class from 135 to 140 to face another three-time state champion, Collin Palmer of St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio.

The Iowa State-bound Taylor and Ohio State-bound Palmer did not disappoint. Palmer struck first with a beautiful duckunder. Palmer looked to be in control of the match after he picked up a reversal in the second period to go up 4-1. But Taylor battled back, picking up a reversal of his own to cut the deficit to one point, 4-3, going into the third period. In the final period, he picked up a quick escape and then added a takedown to go up 6-4. Taylor was then able to tilt Palmer for a two-point nearfall, which all but sealed the deal as Taylor won 8-5.

Nobody has ever questioned Taylor's talent. How could you? All the kid has ever done is win. And mostly in dominating fashion. He has won five Cadet or Junior National titles in Fargo. He has just two career losses in high school, both of which he has avenged. In December, Taylor became the first wrestler ever to win four Walsh Ironman titles.

Although Taylor's talent has never been in question, people have questioned whether he could remain on top moving up from the lowerweights to middleweights. Taylor competed at 103 as a freshman and sophomore before moving up to 112 as a junior. This season, Taylor moved up four weight classes to compete at 135.

If Taylor's tournament victories at the Super 32 in November and Walsh Ironman in December weren't reason enough to think he would be extremely successful as a middleweight, then his victory over Palmer, who was four weights heavier last season, should be.

All one has to do is watch David Taylor and Collin Palmer wrestle and it quickly becomes clear that both should go on to have very successful collegiate wrestling careers. But just how successful? Collegiate success is never easy to predict. I can think of countless examples of wrestlers who won everything there was to win in high school only to go to college and never be heard from again. Things happen. Like injuries. Some wrestlers lose their drive and motivation for the sport. Others don't improve at the rate other people expect.

With that said, I'm going to go on record and say this: I think Collin Palmer is going to be a very good college wrestler at Ohio State, much like his older brother, Lance, a junior at Ohio State who is already a two-time All-American. David Taylor, on the other hand, is going to be special. When Taylor's college wrestling career is through at Iowa State, he'll go down as one of the best college wrestlers of his generation. Bold statement? Certainly. But the kid possesses all the ingredients a wrestler needs to be special.

David Taylor, shown here as a junior 112-pounder, moved up four weight classes to 135 pounds for his senior season. In December, Taylor became the first four-time Walsh Ironman champion ever (Photo/
Taylor is a monster on the mat, which should help him immensely as he makes the transition from high school wresting to college wrestling. He's phenomenal on his feet and can score with a variety of attacks. He can scramble with the best of them. However, above all else, Taylor has a drive to be the best … like few I have ever seen.

I was at Iowa State during the Cael Sanderson Era. So I have watched countless Cael matches and listened to countless Cael interviews. I see so much of Cael Sanderson in David Taylor. Not only in his wrestling, but even more so in his demeanor off the mat. Both are humble and unassuming and have a quiet confidence about them. Neither ever seems completely satisfied and is always looking to improve. Both have a love for the sport that is unrivaled. And both continued their dominance moving up several weight classes in high school (Cael went from 119 to 135 to 145 to 171.)

Before moving to Ohio in junior high, Taylor lived in Wyoming, which is when he met the Sanderson family. Taylor would make the hour-and-ten-minute trek with his parents from his home in Wyoming to Heber City, Utah, a few times a week to practice with guys like Jason Chamberlain, and be coached by Cael's father, Steve Sanderson. Before long, Taylor and his family got to know the Sandersons well. So it's no surprise that Taylor chose to wrestle for Cael at Iowa State.

David Taylor will be heading to Iowa State to wrestle for Cael Sanderson (Photo/Kevin Schlosser)
Taylor will be entering a perfect situation at Iowa State. He will be wrestling for the greatest college wrestler ever and someone he grew up admiring in Cael. In addition to learning from Cael, he will have the opportunity to learn from some great assistant coaches in Cody Sanderson, who he has known for years, and Casey Cunningham, an NCAA and U.S. Nationals champion. The Cyclone room is full of talented wrestlers around his weight … like All-Americans Nick Fanthorpe, Nick Gallick, and Cyler Sanderson. Next season, Iowa State will be a senior-laden team, so Taylor is expected to redshirt, which will allow him to grow as a wrestler and mature physically before he steps into the lineup for the 2010-11 season.

As great as David Taylor has been, I promise you, his best days are still ahead.

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